This week Facebook announced it would buy $100 million worth of outstanding invoices from women and minority-owned businesses.
The Facebook Invoice Fast Track program would put money in the hands of small businesses that otherwise would have to wait weeks or months to get paid by their customers, according to CNBC.
Businesses participating in the program can submit an outstanding invoice of $1,000, and Facebook will pay it. Subsequently, customers who pay the business's unpaid invoice will, in turn, be paying back Facebook for the money given to the business.
In 2020, Facebook started a scaled-down version of the program when it heard businesses were struggling during the pandemic.
"We just heard first-hand the financial hardships that these suppliers were facing, and it was created really quickly and brought up as an idea and pitched to our CFO to say, 'Hey, would we be able to help our suppliers with this?'" Rich Rao, Facebook's vice president of small business, said. "It was a very small pilot, but we did see that be very successful."
But now, the company is expanding the program to $100 million. Rao expects the program will assist 30,000 small businesses.
The program is another attempt by Facebook to build its ties and long-term loyalty among small businesses, many of whom rely on it to place ads targeted to niche demographics who may want to use their services.
Facebook’s vice president of small business Rich Rao said that the company last year piloted a smaller version of the program after hearing how much its suppliers were having difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those that are eligible for the program are American businesses owned by women and minorities, and that are members of supplier organizations that serve underrepresented groups.
Businesses can apply for the program if they are members of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the Women's Business Enterprise National Council, the National Veterans Business Development Council, Disability: IN, and the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce.
Lisa Dunnigan, co-founder of The Wright Stuff Chics, had previously gone through the pilot version of the program. She says the program was a "life saver" for her company.
Rao said that Dunnigan’s story is among the many Facebook heard about after the launch of their pilot that convinced the social media company to significantly expand the program.
“We were just overwhelmed by the stories that came back,” he said.
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